Every day we make choices about what to wear, and the clothes we put on signal the many different roles and moods of our personality. Our garb also gives hints about how we feel about society and whether or not we conform to cultural standards.

Shahidha Bari's Dressed: A Philosophy of Clothes is a brilliantly written book that is encyclopedic in its sweep and idiosyncratic in its tone. In her approach to clothes, the fashion industry, the media, the arts, she focuses on the philosophical questions ordinary people ask themselves as they shop for clothes, imagine their impact on others as they wear them, and put them away for their performance on another day.

Bari hops, skips, and jumps with graceful prose from dresses and suit coats, furs and feathers, shoes and pockets, purses and suitcases. She spices things up with keen insights on fashion from art, literature, film and popular culture as well as bits and pieces on Karl Marx, Madame X, Cary Grant, Madonna, Alexander McQueen, Elena Ferrante, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and many others.

At one point, Bari writes: "Clothes tell our stories, some that we would rather not tell, others that we hardly tell ourselves." That’s certainly true. But we admit we were also delighted when she confessed "the peculiar peace that overcomes us when we peel off our shoes at the end of the day." If you identify with Bari's pleasure here, there is no doubt that you will savor her passion that shines through the many other pages of Dressed.